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L’autorité de l’écrit pragmatique dans la société chrétienne éthiopienne (XVe-XVIIIe s.)

Abstract : Between the eleventh and mid-twentieth centuries, the Christian royal power in Ethiopia produced documents recording land donations and transfers of privileges granted to religious institutions and important men of the kingdom. Although it was the only producer of written deeds, the royal authority showed little concern for the fate of these documents: it did not conserve them or endow them with any external mark of validation, and accepted modifications relatively easily. This paradox can be resolved through an in-depth study of the practices surrounding the production and preservation of this documentation. The royal power set up ad hoc committees that traveled to the provinces in order to have the acts promulgated there, or issued them from the royal camp and sent them to the institutions concerned. Both writing processes and archiving were delegated to religious institutions, whether they were direct beneficiaries of the acts or functioned as regional administrative centers. The chronological scansions of these phenomena remain difficult to trace. Nevertheless, a radical change took place from the 1720s onwards, as private individuals claimed the right to have transfers that concerned them written in the vernacular language. The stability of Gondarian society and the professionalization of scribes linked to the churches allowed them to become the notaries of their communities and to serve the interests of the lower nobility. Ethiopian bureaucracy thus escaped the monopoly of sovereign power to serve the community of landowners.
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Contributor : Anaïs Wion <>
Submitted on : Thursday, December 26, 2019 - 2:32:38 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 11:08:53 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02424018, version 1


Anaïs Wion. L’autorité de l’écrit pragmatique dans la société chrétienne éthiopienne (XVe-XVIIIe s.). Annales. Histoire, Sciences sociales, Armand Colin, 2019, 74 (3-4), pp.559-589. ⟨halshs-02424018⟩



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